WASHINGTON - For the first time ever, one of the region's most popular seafood items is on the "do not eat" list in Washington D.C. People are being advised not to consume eel, carp and striped bass, also known as rockfish, that are caught in District waters.
D.C.’s Department of Energy and Environment put out an advisory because of the levels of PCBs and other chemical contaminants found in the fish.
PCBs are compounds that were used in electrical equipment before being banned in 1979. These chemicals take an extremely long time to break down.
Testing in 2013 found an alarmingly high amount of PCBs in D.C. rockfish. Experts thought it might have been a mistake, but new results that came in from 2015 confirmed the findings.
Now, officials say rockfish from the parts of the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers which flow through D.C. should not be eaten for the foreseeable future.
“PCBs are known carcinogens that have been found to cause cancer in animals and they have adverse health effects on human endocrine systems, immune systems, reproductive systems and other bodily functions,” said Bryan King of the Department of Energy and Environment.
This advisory applies to District waters only where you can only fish for personal use. There is no commercial fishing in D.C.
Any local rockfish you see for sale or on a menu is likely from the Chesapeake Bay.
When you look at a map, it is all connected of course, but both Maryland and Virginia say their rockfish is safe to eat as long as it is not more than twice a month.
When it comes to most of the other fish found in D.C. waters, the levels of toxins are actually improving.
It is important to note that rockfish are not resident to D.C. They come here to spawn and then migrate to other places, including the bay and beyond.
So the big question is where are they picking up the toxins? The most recent testing in Maryland was six years ago and a spokesperson told FOX 5 they are interested in D.C.'s findings and are reaching out to the District for more information.